OpenPSI – Interview: Nicholas Gibbins

Sep 4, 2009 by

Nicholas Gibbins from the University of Southampton talks about OpenPSIA way of making government data more easily available to researchersWhat is OpenPSI?The situation in the UK regarding public sector information is that lots of different parts of the public sector have been producing lots of information that hasn’t been re-used. So different parts of the same councils, say, will collect the same data. There’s a European directive saying the public sector has to make this information reusable and prevent redundant effort. Lots of this information could be useful to the research community too. But knowing what they’ve got and how to get hold of it is really difficult. We hope to provide services that will join up the three stakeholder communities: the mash-up authors like OpenSociety, the data publishers and the research users. We have a website for this, building on prior information and we’ve been involved the new government push for open data. In short, we hope to make the data usable by allowing people to find it.How would you like other software developers and users to get involved in what you are doing?The biggest thing is to got the website and use the data and give us good mash-ups. Our success criterion is how much people use the data we provide.What developer communities have you been involved in and if none, why not?The predecessor activepsi was a semantic web project. We’ve also engaged with people like Ordnance Survey.What is the coolest or most exciting thing in educational software development?I think there is a niche not yet fully inhabited and it’s the anticipation of that being filled that I find exciting… I’d like to see VREs and similar opening up their data and allowing other research communities to use it… and I think people are on the way.

1 Comment

  1. The communities we are engaging in OpenPSI are:1) The UK research community and specifically those who are trying to find correlations between some research specific survey data and a general trend. Those with an interest in Quantitative Research involving examining collected data with comparison to broader social, environmental, economic or political environment in the UK.2) The UK government information publishers who have limited understanding of the potential research value of specific Public Sector Information (PSI) resources. As Nick stated we have been working with a number and the Prime Minister’s recent announcement that Sir Tim Berners-Lee, and Nigel Shadbolt are to help drive a step change in UK Government activities to make non-personal public data widely available for re-use will make many new sources of data become available during the coming months.3) The Mashup community, the new information intermediaries, an untapped community of technicians who could help close the gap between information publishers and researchers by providing mashups to perform analysis on ‘aggregated’ UK government information.

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